Today I spent most of the day reworking a speech that I will be giving tomorrow. It was work. I had spent several weeks working out a plan for the speech. I had even rewritten it several times, but I realized a couple of days ago that it wasn’t good enough. It was too much Anne and not enough God. Remember my favorite scripture – Increase God, Decrease Me? Yep, I was struggling again. I was looking for accolades for my speech. Outside approval was something that I thought I needed. What I didn’t realize is I needed God’s approval and no one else’s mattered. When I finally let myself see that, then I realized what I was writing was wrong.
The funny thing about all of this is my speech topic was on distractions. You know, what distracts me from God. I was doing just that. I was concentrating so much on what others might think of me that I wasn’t allowing God direct contact with my brain (or more importantly, my heart)! I was pushing Him away.
I went back to John 3:30 “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
People were distracting me from God. Not on purpose but it was definitely happening. I was overly concerned with how I would be perceived with my words. It all turned around today when I allowed God into my heart. I prayed:
God, show me the words to write my speech. Show me what you need me to say to these women. Give me the strength to say difficult and maybe personal stories to show these women to make room for You in their lives.
I started to write and eliminate and write some more. Editing was in full force this morning.
After writing I reflected on why I was so absorbed in pleasing others. It is a sick cycle. Sometimes I stand on my own, not worrying about anything but my relationship with God. Other times, I allow people to infiltrate the relationship. I allow people to break my bond with God.
Over the years I have become better at determining which relationships work best in my life. I abstain from certain volunteer positions just because I know it leads me into gossip and sin. I stop myself from friendships that pull me away from God. I limit my time on social media outlets (although my writing involves the use of social media quite extensively). I focus on my prayer life and try to create a strong bond between God and myself. It helps me conquer my foolish desire to receive accolades for my work.
It is nice to receive a pat on the back. It is wonderful to have someone voice to me that I did a good job. It seems awkward to reply back to that accolades “Praise God.” But that is exactly what I want to do. I might do a great job singing at church. I might write something that touches your heart and gives you exactly what you needed to hear. All of those things are great, but it was God that touched you, not me. It was God that produced those words on my keyboard, not me. It was God that used my voice to sing the words of praise that you needed to hear. I opened my heart to allow God to work within me, but He did the work, not me.
This reminds me of the story of Moses. Moses was face to face with God. The burning bush appeared to Moses and God asked Moses to go to Pharaoh to speak to His people. Moses debated with God about sending him to speak (he like all of us considered himself unworthy of speaking for God). In the following excerpt from Exodus it explains how Moses battled back and forth with God.
Then Moses said, “What if they will not believe me or listen [a]to what I say? For they may say, ‘The Lord has not appeared to you.’” 2 The Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” And he said, “A staff.” 3 Then He said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. 4 But the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand and grasp it by its tail”—so he stretched out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his [b]hand— 5 “that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.”
6 The Lord furthermore said to him, “Now put your hand into your bosom.” So he put his hand into his bosom, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous like snow. 7 Then He said, “Put your hand into your bosom again.” So he put his hand into his bosom again, and when he took it out of his bosom, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh. 8 “If they will not believe you or [c]heed the [d]witness of the first sign, they may believe the [e]witness of the last sign. 9 But if they will not believe even these two signs or heed what you say, then you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground; and the water which you take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.”
10 Then Moses said to the Lord, “Please, Lord, I have never been [f]eloquent, neither [g]recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am [h]slow of speech and [i]slow of tongue.” 11 The Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say.” 13 But he said, “Please, Lord, now [j]send the message by whomever You will.”
You can see that Moses felt extremely unworthy. I feel that way all the time. Who am I to speak to women on faith? Who am I but a mere sinner? Why would God choose me? You know why, because God knew my heart was open and ready for Him. Moses doubted himself over and over. God showed him all kinds of tricks and still Moses doubted that he was the right person. He went on to say to God – I am not an eloquent speaker. I am slow of tongue. God reminds Him that it is God who made his mouth and gave him sight. Let go of your selfish desire to be in control and let me take over (God is telling Moses).
I heard God loud and clear today. Stop taking control, Anne, and just let me do my work through your mouth! My daughter quotes it perfectly from the movie “Ratatouille.” It is her favorite quote and it fits perfect here… “Shut up and eat your garbage.” God wants me to shut out my thoughts and let His thoughts take over. Stop listening to that garbage in my brain and let God devour it! I love that!